One for the Record Collection!
IN THIS PHOTO: Big Thief/PHOTO CREDIT: Big Thief
Essential October Releases
I am going to guide you through…
IMAGE CREDIT: Anna Meredith
thirteen albums that are worth your money next month. Of course, one can only afford so much, but I do think it is worth considering all the albums below – if you love diversity and some pretty tasty sounds! I would recommend you have a look through the assorted offerings below but, to get started, how about Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors?! The album is out on 4th October and is well worth some pennies! Released through Jagjaguwar, it is the fourth studio album from Olsen. Her last album, 2016’s My Woman, was hugely well-received and showed real progression – greater musical diversity and more hooks. It seems that All Mirrors is going to be another triumphant release. When speaking with FADER recently, Olsen talked about her life at the moment; how the new record sounds and what she has planned for the future:
“In many ways, it feels like her voice has always belonged inside the emotive swings of a string orchestra, the trembles of the cello adding an extra twinge to the heart with every word she sings. And across All Mirror’s 11 tracks, there are moments where the production and Olsen’s message converge into a singular swirl of hope and optimism. At one point, mid-album slow-burner “Tonight” collapses into unrelenting waves of instrumentation that feel almost unbearable. It is Olsen’s favorite song.
“I’m not worried about breaking out anymore,” she says. “I already did that in my mind. I don’t need to play Primavera Sound every year and play the best slot at every festival. I just wanna keep making music. I feel a little bit more fulfilled by other things now, and it doesn’t entirely depend on being accepted as a famous musician”.
Make sure you order All Mirrors but, if you are in the mood for something slightly different, then I can direct you to 808 State’s Transmission Suite. It is out on 11th October and is a much-needed return from the legendary act. To me, 808 State defined Acid House and can be considered the pioneers and figureheads. I know their current album will not sound the same as their best in the 1980s and 1990s, but it is sure to be glorious and utterly engrossing! In this feature, we learn more about Transmission Suite:
“Just a year after celebrating three decades in music with a UK Tour, Graham Massey and Andy Barker of 808 State have united once again for the new album' Transmission Suite' - a 15-track self-release scheduled for October 11.
It's the duo's first full studio album since the release of their beloved 'Output Transmission' album in 2002. Keeping in touch with their roots, 808 State recorded the new album in the Granada studios where they once performed live on television in 1989. Along with the '90s Detroit records that have always informed their style, 808 State cites the mixed sound of Manchester's modern and old-school club scene as their main source of influence.
"We're trying to make a future for other people to immerse themselves in," says Graham. "It feels a bit like an imaginary landscape. That's always been a big part of 808 State, when you go back through the music: these kinds of landscapes of futurism".
One album I am especially looking forward to is Big Thief’s Two Hands. It is their fourth album and is actually their second album of the year! U.F.O.F. came out in May and, on 11th October, its companion piece arrives – the band very much see it as a compliment to their last album. They started recording Two Hands a few days after U.F.O.F. was wrapped and they convened to Tornillo ion Texas to work with producer Andrew Sarlo – he has produced every album from the band. This is how the band describe their latest work:
“Big Thief had only just finished work on their 3rd album, U.F.O.F. – “the celestial twin” – days before in a cabin studio in the woods of Washington State. Now it was time to birth U.F.O.F.’s sister album – “the earth twin” – Two Hands. 30 miles west of El Paso, surrounded by 3,000 acres of pecan orchards and only a stone’s throw from the Mexican border, Big Thief (a.k.a. Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek, Max Oleartchik, and James Krivchenia) set up their instruments as close together as possible to capture their most important collection of songs yet. Where U.F.O.F. layered mysterious sounds and effects for levitation, Two Hands grounds itself on dried-out, cracked desert dirt.
In sharp contrast to the wet environment of the U.F.O.F. session, the southwestern Sonic Ranch studio was chosen for its vast desert location. The 105-degree weather boiled away any clinging memories of the green trees and wet air of the previous session. Two Hands had to be completely different — an album about the Earth and the bones beneath it. The songs were recorded live with almost no overdubs. All but two songs feature entirely live vocal takes, leaving Adrianne’s voice suspended above the mix in dry air, raw and vulnerable as ever”.
Like 808 State, Elbow are back after a bit of a gap. To be fair, the last Elbow album was in 2017: Little Fictions was one of their very best but, when it comes to Elbow, the desire and hunger is always there! Giants of All Sizes comes to us on 11th October and I urge people to go and order it. Singles Dexter & Sinister and Empires suggest a slightly different sound and tone to previous records. It is an intriguing move and, as Guy Garvey explained when talking to NME, there are some notable changes:
“A lot about this record is different. We started recording in a new city, in Hamburg, we changed the way we worked and we all decided from the off to let the songs take the lead, without compromising the vision of each tune.”
Garvey continued: “At times, it’s a bleak record, but it has a huge, if bruised, heart. It was a pleasure to make and we are all immensely proud of it.”
A statement said the album “lyrically takes in moments of deep personal loss, whilst reflecting its times by confronting head-on the spectres of injustice and division not just in the UK but across the world”.
There are quite a few big releases this month – few come much bigger than Kim Gordon’s No Home Record! Not only do you need to buy it, but just listen to tracks like Air BnB and one is easily hooked! Due for release on 11th October through Matador Records, No Home Record is a gem. In this interview, Gordon talked about her music and her sound:
“I like a certain amount of tension in music,” she states: “I like the kind of music that maybe makes you think about the status quo.” It’s something she feels is largely missing from music these days, reflected in the “easy listening” nature of the offerings on streaming services like Spotify: “I feel like the technology has influenced music so much,” she says critically. “A lot of the playlist titles are like, ‘chill work vibes, chill this, chill that, chill everything’,” she remarks with disdain. “It’s like everything’s ‘chill’. Is that a Californian thing? … It’s escapist, escape-oriented. The more f---ed up the world gets, the more things there are to escape into, [like] pot finally being legalised. The world’s going to shit but now you can get high!”
Battles must win the award for best album title of this month with Juice B Crypts! It is released on 18th October and it follows on from 2015’s La Di Da Di. In this CLASH feature, it seems like the much-missed Battles are preparing to unleash something rather special:
“The New York experimental band have been largely silent since the release of 2015's 'La Di Da Di', with the line up shifting once more.
Now focussing on line up Ian Williams (keys, guitar, electronics) and John Stanier (drums), the band have finished work on their fourth LP.
'Juice B Crypts' will be released through Warp on October 18th, and it features a plethora of guests.
New single 'Titanium 2 Step' is a thrilling introduction, with the crisp rhythmic feel harking back to the New York underground scene of the early 80s.
Recruiting Sal Principato from seminal no wave group Liquid Liquid certainly helps, and it's a taut, urgent, and undeniably catchy return.
"We loved making this record in our hometown of New York and cannot be more pleased that Sal from Liquid Liquid is on the track,” explains John, “it could not have been more perfect".
It is definitely worth grabbing a copy of Juice B Crypts because it is going to be one of those albums that, once heard, will not be forgotten in a hurry!
One of the more under-the-radar releases comes from Caroline Polachek in the form of Pang. So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings is the latest track from the album and is an absolute blinder! The album is out on 18th October and, whilst I cannot find any pre-order links yet, keep an eye on her Twitter feed and more details will arrive. In this Vogue feature from earlier in the year, we learn more about the album’s process and Polachek’s sonic orientation:
“It’s been more than three years since Chairlift disbanded, having risen to accidental ubiquity via their sleeper hit “Bruises” that infamously soundtracked an iPod advert during the late-’00s indie boom. Perhaps lesser known are the two critically acclaimed follow-ups that never quite got the commercial attention they deserved: the eerie, ’80s-inflected synth-pop of 2012’s Something, then 2016’s Moth, a glossy, euphoric record about life in the city. Today, the Brooklyn-centric indie scene where they first made their name has largely faded away, but Polachek sees it as a blessing in disguise. “I think there was a real lane built for indie bands during the time when Chairlift came up,” she says. “I felt a little bit trapped in that lane in some ways. For better or worse, that lane has disappeared. I don’t feel like I have a clear lane in the music industry right now, which is actually very exciting.”
And where Chairlift’s final two albums viewed love through a prism of misty-eyed wonderment, Polachek’s solo venture is bracingly candid. Across the album, she plumbs the depths of heartbreak and romantic frustration—and, on the penultimate track, “Door,” undergoes a kind of emotional rebirth—to address her personal life in heart-rending, honest terms.
IN THIS PHOTO: Caroline Polachek/PHOTO CREDIT: Into the Gloss
Why, then, did she choose to lead with “Door,” one of the record’s more enigmatic, slow-burning moments? “I was actually really stunned that my label suggested ‘Door’ as the single to lead with, as it’s such a long and winding song,” she adds. “But the more I sat with it, the more I felt that, yeah, this is a really good introduction. There are songs on the record that are a bit more twisty and moody. And this one feels like, no pun intended, an open door. It feels like an invitation.”
It’s no mere journey, though, but a full-on trip. “I do think about music a lot as rollercoasters,” Polachek adds. “I think of myself as a rollercoaster builder. Pop, in particular, does that very consciously: it sets up dips and rises for people. I cared a lot about the ‘ride’ while making the new music. In that respect, ‘Door’ is a pretty accurate taste of what’s to come”.
Another fantastic artist bringing us some musical gold net month is Vagabon. The Vagabon album can be pre-ordered here, and Laetitia Tamko (a.k.a. Vagabon) has been putting her all into it. In this interview from July, she discussed her progress and what the stage means to her:
“Home, and being separated from it, comes up a lot on Vagabon. Its lyrics seem to point to relationships stretched thin by distance, but when asked if she was missing anyone in particular while she was out touring Infinite Worlds, Tamko demurs. She acknowledges that much of her new material came from a feeling of rootlessness, but says that “very few songs are about a person; it’s more just about a feeling of not being in place.” And, to be fair, this is hardly a new concept for Tamko—just look at her chosen stage name.
The idea of home had come up earlier in our conversation, too, in a context that felt much less expected. Tamko said that she feels most at home onstage, the same place where she experiences nerves so intense that she sometimes can’t open her eyes. To me, this seems paradoxical—to find solace in a space so riddled with anxiety. But Tamko embodies many seemingly opposing forces: She’s nervous yet fearless, methodical but trusting of her intuition. And she’s not above succumbing to a whim. “Do you ever feel like blowing your life up?” she asks me abruptly, mid-meal, fire in her eyes. She’s talking about the thrill of behaving recklessly—the feeling of freedom that accompanies a leap against odds—and I recognize the sentiment. Comfort and ambition don’t always play nicely”.
My final five album suggestions are a varied bunch! Anna Meredith’s FIBS comes out on 25th October. You can pre-order it here and you just know the album will deliver. Meredith is one of the most pioneering and exceptional artists around and, when it comes to FIBS, we are in for a treat:
“Scottish composer and producer Anna Meredith has shared details about a new LP.
‘FIBS’ – out in October via Moshi Moshi – will be her second studio album, coming three and a half years on from the release of her Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning debut ‘Varmints’.
According to her team, we can expect 45 minutes of technicolour maximalism, almost perpetual rhythmic reinvention, and a project that boasts a visceral richness and unparalleled accessibility.
The album is trailed by its first single ‘Paramour’ and an accompanying single-take video. Both song and visuals both sweep and dart around at top speed (a blistering 176 BPM) before rounding the journey out with an unexpected tuba-led rock-out.
‘FIBS’ is set to be an overhauled, updated version of the Meredith’s sound. She’s chucked out her old MIDI patches and paired her unique compositional voice with brand-new instruments, both acoustic and electronic, and a writing process that’s more intense than she’s ever known.
Fibs, Meredith explains, are “lies — but nice friendly lies, little stories and constructions and daydreams and narratives that you make for yourself or you tell yourself”.
Meredith is one of those artists who brings you into her world and, if some though her Varmints album of 2016 was a little inaccessible, I actually think FIBS is easier to appreciate, if you are not steeped in her work and a fan of her brand. One of those groups who seeps into your blood and relaxes the senses, it is great Cigarettes After Sex are bringing us Cry on 25th October through Partisan Records. You can pre-order the album, and I would suggest you do! The Texas band’s eponymous album arrived in 2017 and received some very positive reviews.
IN THIS PHOTO: Cigarettes After Sex/PHOTO CREDIT: Ebru Yildiz
It is interesting to read how Cry’s recording setting influenced the sound:
“The follow-up to 2017's self-titled debut was recorded at a mansion on the Balearic island of Mallorca, a place frontman Greg Gonzalez said is key to the record. “The sound of this record is completely tied to the location for me,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Ultimately, I view this record as a film. It was shot in this stunning, exotic location, and it stitches all these different characters and scenes together, but in the end is really about romance, beauty & sexuality. It’s a very personal telling of what those things mean to me”.
Completely different to Cigarettes After Sex, FKA twigs gets set to unveil Magdalene on Young Turks (you can pre-order here). It comes out on 25th October and is one of the most anticipated albums of 2019. In this fascinating discussion with i-D, FKA twigs chatted about Magdalene and some of the tracks that feature on the album:
“Work began on Magdalene, which she produced predominantly with Nicolas Jaar, alongside other contributors, three years ago. It came to fruition between London, New York and Los Angeles, where she indulged in a period of solitude, taking to wearing long medieval dresses and wandering around by herself. “I was in a sad place, mentally,” she says, “and I didn’t want to come out of it. I don’t have many friends there, and wasn’t communicating with my friends or family here. I just went and locked myself off.”
IN THIS PHOTO: FKA twigs/PHOTO CREDIT: @FKAtwigs
“The record is about every lover that I’ve ever had, and every lover that I’m going to have,” she says. Musically, she describes it as “just when you think it’s really fragile and about to fall apart, there’s an absolute defiance and strength in a way that my work’s never had before”. If previously, Twigs was seen as something otherworldly, now she’s right there in front of us, pouring her heart out. “It’s really fragile. I made it at a time when I was in recovery – physically and emotionally – and I think that comes through.” The intense vulnerability of the record contrasts with just how precise and superhuman her talent is.
“I used to laugh to myself about how, as a woman, your story is often attached to the narrative of a man,” she explains. “No matter what you’re doing or how great your work is, sometimes it’s as though you have to be attached to a man to be validated. I’d felt like that at times. And then I started to read about Mary Magdalene and how amazing she was; how she was likely to have been Jesus’s best friend, his confidante. She was a herbalist and a healer, but, you know, her story is written out of the bible and she was ‘a prostitute’. I found a lot of power in the story of Mary Magdalene; a lot of dignity, a lot of grace, a lot of inspiration.
"Holy Terrain", featuring Future, will undoubtedly receive the most attention. A dark, sexy, witchy trap tune, it’s a new direction for Twigs. After getting hold of Future’s number, she did what any of us would do and casually dropped him a text.
“I wasn’t sure whether he would even know who I am. I was like, ‘Hi, it’s Twigs. Let me know if you wanna talk about music or anything.’ He texted back right away and I was like…” Twigs throws her phone onto the sofa beside her suddenly. “‘Oh my god, he’s just messaged me back!’ He’s such a sweetheart. I sent him the album and I called him up and was like, ‘Listen, Future… this is what my album’s about. It’s a really empowering, sensitive record, with a lot of feminine energy, and this song is probably the most fun track on it, but I still need lyrical content.’ And he said, ‘Okay, I’ve got it’. And his verse is beautiful,” she says. “He’s just talking about his downfalls as a man; how he’s sorry and asking for healing. I love sad Future. I love when he gets emo, when he expresses himself. It’s just so beautiful when he opens up.”
It is always great having a new Michael Kiwanuka record in the world! KIWANUKA is out on 25th October and follows his fantastic album, Love & Hate, from 2016. With every album, we get something very different from Kiwanuka. It seems, on his upper-case, semi-eponymous album, everything is bold and urgent. Do make sure you get your copy. NME discussed the album with Kiwanuka in an interview from earlier in the year:
“Michael Kiwanuka self-titling his upcoming third album is more of a statement than most make when releasing an eponymous record. His is a name that was constantly mispronounced at school in North London’s Muswell Hill. Then, when his music career was kicking off, people asked him what name he was going to release the songs under. From the man whose first big hit came in the form of a song called ‘Black Man In A White World’, it’s something that’s coloured his entire career. Stepping out, then, with the follow-up to a chart-topping, Mercury-nominated second album, and naming it after his ‘difficult’ surname, means a lot. He’s even written it in all-caps, too, as if to hammer the point home even further. ‘KIWANUKA’.
As well as ‘KIWANUKA’ being a deeply personal record, it’s also one that is firmly embedded in what it means to be British in 2019, and the near-constant change that Kiwanuka was experiencing when he headed out on tour with ‘Love & Fear’ in his back pocket towards the end of 2016, the most tumultuous year both Britain and the USA have had in many decades. “You felt a power shift in music,” he says of the time he spent on the road, conversing with all manner of bands and musicians at festivals and travelling from fractured country to fractured country. “Black music, from 2014 up until now, became the most important thing in popular culture. Albums were changing too, and I feel like they’re becoming more important now, and people are making really amazing bodies of work, maybe to go against the throwaway culture we live in”.
The final album that is worth some financial consideration comes in the form of Drift Songs from Underworld. You can find out more on their website, and make sure you see them live if you can. Underworld are putting out so much music at the moment; it is wonderful seeing these legends continuing to impress and move forward! In this interview from earlier this year, Karl and Rick of underworld talked about their Drift project and how it came together:
“Torture the Artist: For the ‘Drift’-format you have scheduled two days in the studio in order to produce a new track that covers (recent) observations or reactions to everyday occurrences. How do you deal with both, the observations or reactions, in the studio, if you find yourself valuing them as not fitting or not as catchy as you thought in the process of producing the track? Additionally how do you deal with the self-imposed pressure to finish a track at a given time?
Karl: Sometimes it’s two, sometimes five, and if we’re away on tour it’ll be seven days a week together. Rick keeps us moving, keeps us focused. He’s continually re-evaluating the next release and what music we include or drop from the Drift Map in a rolling day-to-day re-assessment. The pressure is both a focus and a pain, but we’re committed to it, and for now I wouldn’t go back to making just one album every few years…..maybe next time…
Rick: I try not to panic every Thursday morning.
IN THIS PHOTO: Underworld/PHOTO CREDIT: Rob Baker Ashton
Torture the Artist: Who is the observer and who’s the doer in your musical relationship and how do manage to complement each other and bring your strengths together?
Karl: I am the goldfish.
Rick: Sometimes I am the bowl.
Torture the Artist: How does ‘Drift’ influence your live-performances?
Karl: As you can imagine, the ‘Drift’ project generates a lot more material than single albums would, coming around on three year cycles. Thanks to the internet and a skilled and dedicated team around us we can reach a global audience instantly. Knowing that a lot’ve people hear what’s coming out through the ‘Drift’ project gives us way more flexibility in what goes into the live set, how we can adapt our show for different kinds of festivals, and it’s particularly liberating when we’re playing multiple nights at the same venue. We’ve never had the luxury of so much new material to draw from”.
There are some really great albums arriving next month, so do keep your eyes open and add as many as you can to your collections. Every month produces sensational albums, but October looks especially fruitful and jam-packed. No matter what your tastes, you are pretty covered regarding the selection above. I will be getting Kim Gordon, FKA twigs and Elbow’s new ones but, to be honest, all the albums mentioned in this feature are fab! It just goes to show that 2019 is a very strong year for music. If you’ll excuse me, I am off to…
PHOTO CREDIT: Rob Baker Ashton
ORDER a few albums!